In some subfields of Computer Science, usually the order of authors in papers indicate the importance of contributions of authors to a paper. I am currently contemplating the possibility of pursuing a PhD degree. Accordingly, my question is, when applying for PhD positions, do admission committees consider (and if so, how do they evaluate) the order of authors in papers that I have published. Is the number of papers in which I have been the first author an important factor for admission committees?

  • Usually in some subfields of computer science... In particular, in my subfield of computer science, authors are always ordered alphabetically. – JeffE Jul 14 '16 at 13:43
  • @JeffE you are right and I edited my question. In Soft Computing and Machine Learning, authors are not ordered alphabetically. – MxNx Jul 14 '16 at 14:56

It depends. Authorship order doesn't always indicate who did the most work or the most important work on a paper in many fields. Some fields are alphabetical. Some fields have the lab leader or the person who won the gran last. Hopefully the admission committee understands the norms of their own field and the field you are coming from (if they are different) to be able to make a good evaluation.

I've never served on a PhD admissions committee, but I understand that they generally will try to determine your contribution to your publications when evaluating your application.

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  • In addition to a list of publications you will of course be submitting a resume where you can specifically add your contributions in some or all papers you have published. – kabZX Jul 16 '16 at 13:14
  • @kabZX, I would probably skip such self-serving statements when looking at a PhDed person's CV unless I was worried about their contribution. I've hired ~20 people into researchy positions over the last dozen years, and while I've skimmed their paper titles, I've never studied the author order carefully. – Bill Barth Jul 16 '16 at 15:22

Primary authorship is best. However, any authorship when applying to a PhD is good.

(Depending on the field and subfield, being listed first indicates being the primary author).

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  • Can you please elaborate a little more? Is it possible for you to share some of your personal experiences or provide some references? – MxNx Jul 16 '16 at 9:30

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